Bike SPAs: Not just another relaxing place for your bike!

by Victoria Kovacs, Designer, and Fred Young, Senior Landscape Architect, Alta Planning + Design

Like our Portland headquarters, the Alta Seattle office is proud to announce the opening of our Bike Secure Parking Area, or Bike SPA for short. Located in the basement of the Vance Building in the heart of downtown Seattle, the SPA features 16 different racks from three different manufacturers: Dero, Urban Racks, and Sportworks, accommodating up to 43 bicycles. The Bike SPA is not only meant to safely store the bicycles from the building’s office tenants, but also to serve as a resource for developers, building managers, architects, and other designers to test out a variety of different racks in order to include these racks in project specifications. We are working with local groups Commute Seattle and Cascade Bicycle Club to advertise this resource.

The SPA is secured by a key code entry with an automatic door. This simple amenity takes away the awkward balancing act of trying to hold open a door and walk through it with your bicycle and without banging the bike pedals on the door frame.

Alta Seattle’s Bike SPA features 16 different racks from three different manufacturers: Dero, Urban Racks, and Sportworks, accommodating up to 43 bicycles.

Once inside, the racks include staple, vertical free standing, wall hanging, and transit specialized racks (on-board bike storage for light rail cars and the front of buses). There is also a self-repair stand with a pump and tools attached with cables. The room is approximately 43’ long by 21’6” wide with 9’6” ceilings. As we are regular bicycle commuters in the Seattle office, we have grown to love our own favorite racks, but it has been a learning experience testing out different rack variations to discover what makes a bike rack more or less functional for a range of bicycles and lock types.

Urban High Density Rack from Urban Racks.
Ethan and Gavin of Sportworks installing our No Scratch Tofino racks.

Based on the use from other bicycle commuters in our building, the most popular rack so far seems to be the staple. It’s the most straightforward, familiar, least energy involved way of locking your bike. Sportworks No Scratch Tofino is the perfect staple rack with stainless steel and sturdy rubber edges so your bike doesn’t get scratched. And as far as aesthetics go, it looks pretty sleek. Here is a picture of Ethan and Gavin of Sportworks installing these racks.

Personally, I’ve gotten to like the Urban Racks vertical rack, or “Urban High Density Rack” in their catalog. It’s an incredibly sturdy rack, with solid footings and cross bracing. It’s easy to roll a bike onto the front wheel hook, and this rack can accommodate locking the front wheel and bike frame to the rack with a U-lock. Plus, it properly supports the back wheel of a bicycle so the weight of the bike doesn’t rest on the chain ring. This problem often happens when the vertical spacing of the horizontal supports doesn’t align properly with the bike wheels.

The bottom bar horizontal support on the Urban Racks vertical also allows efficient use of space, as bikes can be hung from both sides of the rack without the rear bicycle wheels swinging beneath the rack and colliding with bikes on the opposite side.

One last feature on this rack is two varying heights of the front wheel hook. This allows for handlebar space for bikes parked adjacent to one another, and longer bicycles with bigger tires can be hung from the higher spacing if the wheel touches the ground on the lower hook. Granted, for very heavy bicycles and cargo bicycles, any vertical hanging rack isn’t an option. But for space efficient design and bikes that can be hung vertically, this is a great rack.